Right out of catering college at the age of twenty-one, I found myself appointed Training Manager of a Three Star Hotel. During my first few weeks, I was looked at with curiosity by the experienced staff I was to train. Since theoretical knowledge was then my chief asset, I gathered that it was the only place to start. I poured over my textbooks and journals, planning classes for the various departments knowing that their access to professional studies were limited. I was greatly aware of the gap that existed in my practical knowledge and the need to bridge it became my prime concern. It has been many years and I am still training, but from a slightly broader perspective.
Trainers within organisations need not always be Training Managers. They could be Heads of Departments, CEOs or even Directors. Either way their training function is a crucial part of organisational change. Poor Change Management could badly affect the bottom line.
It is generally best to first understand the requirement of the promoters, as they are the ones employing your services. It is their vision that serves as the basis of the changes to be made. Making a diagnosis at this point would be a mistake as you do not still have all the information necessary to recommend the appropriate treatment.
A study of the work place ecosystem over a period of time would help estimate the resources required. Understanding its limitations and constraints would provide a further insight – the path to the answers. Based on goals to be achieved you could suggest certain guidelines specific to the establishment.
Training a team usually involves their development in areas of competence and character. Competence could be in technical, interpersonal or problem solving skills. Character development would be based on social and organisational values.
One must also recognise that the needs of the employees to be trained are critical, as they are the ones implementing your directives. In this lies the success or failure of the entire training exercise. Existing employees already have their preferences and prejudices towards each other as well as the organisation. There is also likely to be a natural resistance to change. So a good place to start would be listening to the employees’ perspective.
Treatment of the staff to be trained must also be given its due. For example persuasion works better than coercion in the long run. Patience supported by sensitivity earns more integrity than an aggressive or manipulative stance. It is healthier to believe in a person’s potential rather than judge him by his past mistakes. Trust him conditionally but treat him with respect. Encourage his creativity based on his individual ability to perform. An open door environment will encourage a self-managed team that pools ideas and solutions for organisational advancement.
Change in a company culture does not come overnight. It requires an enduring commitment to change. Training in the end is all about aligning needs – of the employer and the employee.